LZF Grants
Growing the Grassroots

From the beginning, LZF has prioritized historically marginalized, under-served, or under-resourced communities or populations throughout Massachusetts, where the greatest racial, economic, and social injustices exist.

The Fund intentionally focuses on small, grassroots organizations with annual operating budgets under $350,000, that are “below the radar,” often in the nascent stage of their development, and thus not visible to other individual or institutional funders. An LZF grant is often the first step taken by those who seek to turn a vision into a sustainable reality. The Fund provides annual program and general operating (unrestricted) grants up to $20,000. Grants may be renewed for up to five years.

Being a grantee partner of The Lenny Zakim Fund is often seen as a “seal of approval” by other grant-making organizations, larger foundations, and individual philanthropists when considering their own grant award funding. With an LZF grant, a fledgling nonprofit gains a foundation to not only pursue their mission but also secure their reputation in the community.

How to Apply

View All Grantee Partners

Grantee Partner Spotlights

Our Impact Since 1995

29 years providing opportunity, safety, and equity for thousands throughout Massachusetts

grants awarded since our founding

Health Promotion and Accessibility for All

Organizing and Support for Immigrants & Refugees

current grantees

Child & Youth Development and Education

Civil and Human Rights Advocacy and Support

million dollars (approximately) given to community-based organizations dedicated to social justice

Access to Food, Housing, and Economic Security

Violence Prevention, Criminal Justice Reform, and Family Outreach

As our grantee partners continually attest, the capacity-building resources they receive from LZF are as valuable as the grant funding.

LZF strengthens its grantee partners by providing an array of support such as capacity-building educational seminars and workshops, pro bono legal services, and access to experts.


Free day-long conferences help current and former grant recipients to negotiate the challenges of the nonprofit world.


LZF frequently offers free, interactive seminars facilitated by experts in the field. Topics have included: Corporate Governance for Nonprofits, Learning About Donor Advised Funds, and Navigating Insurance Risks and Rewards.


The opportunity to meet and learn from other like-minded community leaders is one of the most valuable parts of the LZF grantee experience. The exchange of ideas, resources, and support creates lasting relationships and strong community ties.

Pro bono legal assistance

Legal assistance is often necessary and always expensive. Through our partners, DLA Piper and The Lawyers Clearinghouse, LZF can provide all current and former grantee partners with free or low-cost legal guidance.

Leadership counseling

Whether seeking advice on management, board development, or donor stewardship, LZF staff members are always available to help grant recipients resolve problems and build confidence.

Access to experts

Board members, donors, and other supporters are eager to share their expertise with grant recipients.

Transformational Leadership Cohort

photo of a group of sixteen people sitting at two long tables pushed together while a woman speaks in front of a large window with a city view in the background

Launched in 2019, LZF’s Transformational Leadership Cohort (TLC) Program is an intensive, year-long, capacity-building program specifically designed for small, grassroots organizations and primarily led by people from historically excluded populations. Throughout the TLC program, a cohort of up to 20 leaders representing current and former LZF grantee partners receive individual executive coaching and participate in high-quality, workshop-based, skills-focused trainings designed to build their knowledge and confidence while also expanding their network of trusted peer leaders.

How to Apply

Nonprofit organizations based in eastern Massachusetts, with operating budgets under $350,000, that have an IRS 501(c)(3) status or a documented fiscal agent that has 501(c)(3) status are welcome to submit a proposal to The Lenny Zakim Fund during our annual grant cycle. Applications are currently closed and will not re-open until July.

The LZF Annual Grant Timeline:

July 1: Grant application released and informational sessions held
August: Informational sessions
September 1: Applications due
Late October: Notification of advancement to next round
November through mid-December: Round 2 site visits
Early February: Notification of grant awards

The Lenny Zakim Fund’s primary funding areas are:

—Child and Youth Development and Education
—Access to Food, Housing, and Economic Opportunity
—Health Promotion and Accessibility for All
—Organizing and Support for Immigrants and Refugees
—Violence Prevention, Criminal Justice Reform and Family Outreach
—LGBTQIA Community Support and Organizing
—Civil and Human Rights Advocacy and Support

LZF does not support conferences, sponsorships for fundraising events or other one-time events; one-time film, video, or print projects; requests from individuals; scholarships, research and development or planning grants; or capital campaigns.

Click to sign up for communications about the next Grant Cycle.


For questions, please contact Allison Picott at apicott@thelennyzakimfund.org